Division Avenue is a curious road, indeed, being interrupted in four places from its northern end at West Marie Street in Hicksville to its southernmost end at Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown.
Were the segments to be connected in a straight line, they'd cross and/or incorporate present-day Old Country Road, Walnut Lane, and Winding Lane in Hicksville and Horn, Blacksmith, Restful, and Violent lanes in Levittown. So why is the road segmented?
Consider that probably the only reason it exists in the first place is that it ran along the east bank of an ancient rill called Big Hollow Creek in the 19th century. While that streambed was dry and filled with prickly pear cactus by the time Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, it had probably been used to water livestock and so, Division Avenue was, consequently, a cowpath.
This can be surmised by the fact that it appears on the 1873 Beers, Comstock, and Cline Map when the Meyer, Kunz, and Lamkey families had their homesteads along the east side of the street where Division Avenue High School and adjoining properties now reside and we know that these families kept dairy cows and grazed them in the meadows between Division Avenue and Newbridge Road.
The creek may also have been a line of demarcation because the 1745 Willis Map of Hicksville and Jericho shows the line bordering Robert and Jonathan Seaman's property from Richard Willits' property that line coincides with the Division Avenue in Hicksville. It's entirely possible that this parceling of land gave rise to the name "Division Avenue" as the parcels are described as being "entered in ye book of ye plain division".
Problem is, when we look at Division Avenue north of its current Levittown end at Old Farm Road, the 1873 Beers, Comstock, and Cline Map shows it veering slightly westward to intersect Newbridge Road just north of the Town Line, about where Holy Family is in Hicksville. If it was part of the other segments, it'd have to have been rerouted sometime before 1906.
The 1873 map, incidentally, shows Division Avenue continuing south of Hempstead Turnpike, bending slightly eastwards to be joined by a long-vanished road as it reached Gardiner's Avenue amidships - the course of Big Hollow Creek which joined-up with Jerusalem Creek along Wantagh Avenue near the back of St. John of Jerusalem's Church. (Then the German Methodist Episcopal Church). By contrast, the 1870 Nelson Map shows no sign of Division Avenue nor is it present on an 1899 aero-view commissioned by the LIRR.
It does not appear on a Hicksville map until the 1906 Clancy Map with its current configuration but that map, as it was created to illustrate commercial and residential properties in the heart of Hicksville, extends no farther south than a few hundred feet from Old Country Road. It likewise appears in a 1925 aero-view by Rene Cinquin.
The saying "all roads lead to Rome" was an expression of how roads extend from populated areas into the countryside but the maps suggest that Division Avenue actually originated in Levittown sometime after the Civil War and extended into Hicksville sometime at the turn of the 20th Century.
So why was it then chopped-up into four pieces? The section between Old Country Road and West Marie Street was evidently rerouted slightly to the east to make way for the Hicksville United Methodist Church which was built in 1900.
The sections in the future Levittown north of the tracks of the now-defunct Stewart Line of the LIRR (now the LIPA right-of-way) seems to have vanished by the early years of the 20th Century and that might possibly have had something to do with the arrival of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in 1908.
We suburbanites, whom when we reach a certain age, note the many changes in our community over the years but treat our roads as though they were rivers or mountains or some other natural feature on the landscape. But they too are changeable over time.
Want to learn more about the history of Levittown and the surrounding communities? Visit www.levittownhistoricalsociety.org